By: Scott Heng

How a hurricane is FORMED

Weather doesn’t just happen by itself. It is the product of natural forces working together like a machine. This “weather machine” takes energy from the sun, Earth, and the atmosphere [atmosphere: the layer of air that surrounds Earth] and turns it into rain, wind, and other forms of weather.

A hurricane develops in four main stages. First, various storms come together to form a tropical disturbance. Second, the disturbance grows into a tropical depression. Third, the depression becomes a tropical storm. Finally, the storm becomes a tropical cyclone, or hurricane. In each stage, wind speeds increase as the storm sucks in more air and moisture.

Hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean usually start out off the coast of Africa. In the summer, water temperatures in that part of the ocean rise to 80°F or more. The ocean releases warm, moist air into the atmosphere. As the warm air rises, the moisture condenses [condense: to lose heat and change from a vapor or gas into a liquid. Moisture, or water vapor, in the air condenses to form rain.] to form clouds and rain. The result is a tropical thunderstorm.

The names of theses hurricanes are sorted by alphabetical order. Not of where it is located nor where it was formed.

Tracking and preparing for a HURRICANE

The Hurricane Hunters work with meteorologists to track the paths of tropical storms. The meteorologists use satellite images and data from the flight crews to decide when a storm has become a hurricane.

Meteorologists use the Saffir-Simpson scale [Saffir-Simpson scale: a classification system used to measure and rate a hurricane's strength] to rate a hurricane’s strength. This scale rates hurricanes from 1 to 5. The higher the number, the more damage the storm can cause. This information helps people decide whether to board up their windows and stay home or to seek a safer shelter away from the coast. Storms often change ratings as they travel.

To prepare for a hurricane, they will board their windows, get on higher ground, and stock up on supplies until they are rescued.

The troubles of hurricane Sandy

Sandy began as a tropical wave in the Caribbean on Oct. 19. It quickly developed, becoming a tropical depression and then a tropical storm in just six hours. Tropical Storm Sandy was the 18th named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It was upgraded to a hurricane on Oct. 24 when its maximum sustained winds reached 74 mph (119 kph). Because of the winds, civilians can board up their windows so the wind doesn't break any glass.

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